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The Antiquary (1816)

de Sir Walter Scott

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5531343,817 (3.71)31
'It was early in a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance, having occasion to go towards the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and theQueensferry...'So begins Scott's personal favourite among his novels, in characteristically wry and urbane style, as a mysterious young man calling himself 'Lovel' travels idly but fatefully toward the Scottish seaside town of Fairport. Here he is befriended by the antiquary Jonathan Oldbuck, who has taken refugefrom his own personal disappointments in the obsessive study of miscellaneous history. Their slow unravelling of Lovel's true identity will unearth and redeem the secrets and lies which have devastated the guilt-haunted Earl of Glenallan, and will reinstate the tottering fortunes of Sir ArthurWardour and his daughter Isabella.First published in 1816 in the aftermath of Waterloo, The Antiquary deals with the problem of how to understand the past so as to enable the future. Set in the tense times of the wars with revolutionary France, it displays Scott's matchless skill at painting the social panorama and in creatingvivid characters, from the earthy beggar Edie Ochiltree to the loqacious and shrewdly humorous Antiquary himself.The text is based on Scott's own final, authorized version, the 'Magnum Opus' edition of 1829.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 13 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Atmospheric novel. Definitely not as dramatic as Ivanhoe. I loved the Antiquary. Since novels tend to imitate other novels, the end was slightly predictable and rather hurriedly wrapped up, reminding me of Dickens, Austen and other novelists from times when declarations of love were not recorded as dialogue :) ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Read this from Rhoda Wheeler Sheehan's library filled with glass-windowed bookshelves, while I rented a room above the library in my first year as her teaching colleague at Bristol Community College, Fall River, Mass. Rhoda was Vassar '33, her classmates Elizabeth Bishop and Mary McCarthy (who wrote The Group and I think put Rhoda in it); Bishop rented the Hurricane House (which floated across Westport Harbor in the '38 hurricane) every summer, finished her memorable Art of Losing villanelle there after the death of her longtime Brazilian lover. Bishop's most famous poem was The Fish, and I once cleaned a fish--a bluefish--for the writer of The Fish.

But getting back to Walter Scott and The Antiquary (1815): Mr Oldbuck of Monkbarns, a humorist, is the title character, and Mr. Lovel, a young guest. This, by far my favorite Scott novel, witty and literary-historical as it is. The foreword "Advertisement" focuses on Scottish mendicants, early called "Jackies, who go about begging; and use still to recite the Sloggorne, war-cries of the most ancient surnames in Scotland (8).*
"It was some fear of Andrew's [Gemmell's] satire, as much as a feeling of kindness or charity, which secured him the general good reception he enjoyed everywhere"(9). The King's Bedesmen, or Blue Gowns, were every year granted as many beggars as his age, and as many shillings as his age"(11). "On the same occasion one of the Royal Chaplains preaches a sermon to the Bedesmen, who (as one of the reverend gentlemen expressed himself) are the most impatient and inattentive audience in the world. Something of this may arise from the feeling on the part of the Bedesmen, that they are paid for their own devotions, not for listening to those of others."

Scottish traditions include the Clavi-geri (Latin), or club-bearer (armed by the monks). "For the truth of this custom, Mr. Oldbuck quoted the chronicle of Antwerp, and that of St Martin; against which authorities Lovel hd nothing to oppose, haing never heard of them until that moment"(48).
Anecdote of "Snuffy Davy Wilson," who bought the first book published in England, "The Game of Chess," 1474, for two pence (groschen) in Holland stall, and eventually sold it to royalty for £170. Mr Oldbuck confesses, "How often have I stood haggling a halfpence, lest, by a too ready acquiescence in the dealer's first price, he should be led to suspect the value I set upon the article!--how have I trembled, and regarded each poor student of divinity that stopped to turn over the books in the stall, as a rival amateur, or prowling bookseller in disguise!"(51).

Scott next asseses Lovel: not an actor, but mysteriously unsociable--neither tea circles nor coffee house. Everyone would have known if any evil could be said of him, "for the natural desire of speaking evil of our neighbor could in his case have been checked by no feelings of sympathy for a being so unsocial"(70). This approaches the irony of Austen, published in the same years, though probably not read by Sir Walter up north.
Similarly, on why Sir Anthony, a Jacobite, does not ride in the cause for a King James. "His demi-pique saddle fit only one of his horses, the one that would not stand fire. Perhaps the worshipful owner sympathized in the scruples of his sagacious quadruped, and began to think, that which was so much dreaded by the horse could not be very wholesome for the rider"(73).
Ch.VI features a dinner party with Lovel, Oldbuck and Sir Arthur Warden. Lovel is asked to settle the dispute, but hadn't listened for the last hour. Oldbuck, "I thought how it would be when the womankind were admitted--no getting a word out of a young fellow for hours after." They're debating about philology, whether the Pict language, of which only one word remains, "Benval," was Celtic or Saxon (91). Both cited authoritites.
The dispute decends, testily, from philology to Scots kings, like Eachan MacFergus, whom Oldbuck laughs at, calls "mushroom monarch." Then he defends his ancestor, a typographer. Sir Arthur takes off in a pique, looking for the room where his wife's having tea, slamming doors in the dark "with each disappoitment." ( Scottish food, "callops" a kind of stewed meat.) Grisel, the story of the haunted Green Room at Monkbarns.
"I hate the word 'but'...But to is a more detestable combination of lettrs than No itself. 'NO' is a surly, honest fellow...BUT is a sneaking, evasive, half-bred, exceptious sort of conjunction which comes to pull away the cup just when it is at your lips"(152) [Compare Anthony and Cleopatra, II.iv.52]
Oldbuck suggests Lovel excercise his poetic pretensions in an epic, with Oldbuck's own "Essay on Castramentation" appended. "Then we shall revive the good old forms so disgracefully neglected in modern times. You shall invoke the Muse...then we must have a vision in which appears the Genius of Caledonia, with a succession of real Scottish monarchs"(192).

* Pagination from edition published by Ticknor and Fields: Boston, 1868. ( )
1 vote AlanWPowers | Oct 13, 2020 |
The Antiquary was Walter Scott’s third novel, set like the first two in Scotland in the 18th Century. Again, the novel is as much of value for entertainment as it is as an historical record of life in Scotland at that time, with all its cultural intricacies of dialect and language, manners and mannerisms, social conditions, and characters. Like the unforgettable gypsy Meg Merilless from his novel Guy Mannering, the mendicant Edie Ochiltree here provides a fully drawn and lifelike character with a similar though in many ways unique role in the plot. Again, based on a person known to the author in his youth, what we have is another masterpiece of observation in human nature, and idiosyncracy linked to bygone ways of life. The Antiquary of the title arguably plays supporting lead to the beggar, though he is none the less unique in his peculiarities that spring to life from the page. In more second rate supporting roles we have Lovell, the real protagonist of the plot, and the German con-artist Dousterswivel who plays the pantomime baddy with conviction.
In terms of plot we have some predictability, with the end being guessable well before we get there, though when we do get there the novel ends very abruptly, as if Scott did not spend the time and effort on wrapping it up that he did on most of the rest of the story. There are some very good scenic and atmospheric set piece scenes, which together with the historical and social interest make this arguably at least as good or better than Scott’s first two novels. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | May 21, 2019 |
The third book in Scott's Waverley series. Another well told yarn set in an historic background (1790s this time). I found the plot a little contrived - another lost heir, but not to the point of affecting my enjoyment of the writing. I was interested to read later that this book was one of Scott's personal favourites. Also remarkable to read how quickly it was written and published - Scott was under financial pressure, and was putting out these books at a manic pace. One of the central roles in this book is a "licensed" beggar, who is given very sympathetic treatment, continuing Scott's generosity towards people on the fringes of society (in Guy Mannering it was the "Gypsy Queen"). ( )
  mbmackay | Sep 6, 2018 |
De oudheidkundige ontmoet op reis een jongeman die een prettige indruk op hem maakt. Er hangt wat geheimzinnigheid om deze Mr. Lovel. Hij heeft een groot aandeel in het redden van de baronet uit de buurt met zijn dochter van de verdrinkingsdood. Die baronet is dan wel van adel, maar zijn geldkist is praktisch leeg, en hij pakt alles aan om aan meer geld te komen. Zo valt hij in handen van een buitenlander die beweert te weten waar zich een goede mijn bevindt en later een schat in een ruïne. De oude bedelaar, die van huis tot huis en dorp tot dorp wandelt en overal hoort wat er gaande is, speelt een grote rol in het ontmaskeren van de buitenlander. En dan, zoals het gaat in een roman van Scott, komt er ook een groot en afschuwelijk geheim over de Earl aan het licht, en gelukkig komt het allemaal goed. Dat klinkt simpel, maar Scott weet er altijd weer een mooi verhaal van te maken.
  wannabook08 | Jul 14, 2018 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 13 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
When we turn to The Antiquary we meet another side of Scott's talent; his humour. I wonder how many of those who, like myself, had not read Scott since their schooldays will recall that Scott is one of the great comic writers? It is not purely Scottish humour, depending on the canniness of the speaker or on a continuous sly, nervous snigger, or on the grotesque and pawky asides of dialect. Scott’s humour, like his best prose, is cross-bred with the English eighteenth century. Sterne and Fielding have put red blood into it. A character like Jonathan Oldbuck does not make thin jokes down his nose, but stands solidly and aglow beside all the well-found comics of our literature. The secret is that Scott’s animal spirits are high, as Fielding’s were...

I can read about half of The Antiquary and enjoy the flavours of what I read. After that I skip through the preposterous plot and willingly leave the wooden Lovel and the disdainful Miss Wardour to the pleasure of talking like public statues to each other. In one respect it must be admitted they do surpass modern lovers. Severely regulated by their families and by circumstance, these antique couples are obliged to know their subject. The obstacles to love ensure that the lovers shall concentrate.
adicionado por SnootyBaronet | editarNew York Review of Books, V.S. Pritchett
 
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It was early in a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance, having occasion to go toward the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and the Queensferry, at which place, as the name implies, and as is well known to all my northern readers, there is a passage-boat for crossing the Firth of Forth.
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'It was early in a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance, having occasion to go towards the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and theQueensferry...'So begins Scott's personal favourite among his novels, in characteristically wry and urbane style, as a mysterious young man calling himself 'Lovel' travels idly but fatefully toward the Scottish seaside town of Fairport. Here he is befriended by the antiquary Jonathan Oldbuck, who has taken refugefrom his own personal disappointments in the obsessive study of miscellaneous history. Their slow unravelling of Lovel's true identity will unearth and redeem the secrets and lies which have devastated the guilt-haunted Earl of Glenallan, and will reinstate the tottering fortunes of Sir ArthurWardour and his daughter Isabella.First published in 1816 in the aftermath of Waterloo, The Antiquary deals with the problem of how to understand the past so as to enable the future. Set in the tense times of the wars with revolutionary France, it displays Scott's matchless skill at painting the social panorama and in creatingvivid characters, from the earthy beggar Edie Ochiltree to the loqacious and shrewdly humorous Antiquary himself.The text is based on Scott's own final, authorized version, the 'Magnum Opus' edition of 1829.

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